While most of the free agency talk for the Detroit Lions centers around Cliff Avril, Stephen Tulloch and Jeff Backus, perhaps the most important domino in that process is still under contract for next season. That’s Calvin Johnson.
With one year remaining on his contract, there is no doubt about CJ’s 2012 being in Detroit but agreeing to a contract extension now is key to relieving the Lions’ tight salary cap situation. Thanks to earning some hefty bonuses as a result of his All-Pro season last year, Calvin Johnson‘s hit against the salary cap is expected to be around $22.5 million in 2012. The only way to lower that number is to work out a new deal now.
We’ll see where it goes, but we’ll certainly work toward trying to get it done and get it done quickly. Hopefully, we can get something done in the next few weeks.
Whether or not it can get done before free agency begins on March 13 remains to be seen but the Lions should be motivated to get a deal done even before that. The deadline to use the franchise tag is March 5 and a deal with Johnson gives the Lions a better chance at reaching an agreement with Cliff Avril before reaching the franchise tag deadline. Neither the Lions nor Avril regard the franchise tag positively so expect the Lions to use it as a last resort to buy time in negotiating a long-term deal with Avril.